As can be seen from the History of EI and the Controversy that has formed, the area is in somewhat of a quandary. As part of our rethinking of EI we suggest reframing the concept in an existing theory of emotions that considers them to be valuable and necessary to decision making and motivating behaviour. We also propose it should be renamed ‘Emotional Competence’ which, as we will explain, will overcome some of the hurdles that have beset EI in the past.
So what do we mean by competence? And how is EC different from EI?
Think of a continuum or spectrum. At one end, there are the abilities that you possess inherently either because you were born with them or because you have developed them over the years. At the other end of the spectrum there are skills or knowledge that are highly specific and that you can learn through practice.
A competence lies between the two: if you are competent in something you have a certain inbuilt aptitude that you can apply and that you are also able to improve through learning and experience.
|A good example of competence is being ‘green-fingered’ or good at gardening.
If someone is described as ‘green-fingered’ they are likely to have some natural aptitude at gardening and at making plants thrive. However they will also need to learn and apply more specific technical, horticultural and biological knowledge in order for this aptitude to really be demonstrated and for them to truly earn the description of ‘green fingered’.
So what does this mean when we apply it to emotions?
In basic terms EC is the competence in using emotions to achieve our goals. We suggest that this can be broken down into the following three components:
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